I stumbled upon an op-ed written by George Will in February about how Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are misfits for the GOP nomination, although they were the two frontrunners at the time (and arguably still are). Within the arguments and text one would expect from a piece on that topic, one paragraph stuck out like a sore thumb. Will questioned whether Santorum’s social goals, while important, could be accomplished via government intervention. After several paragraphs leading up to it on the matter, Will interjects a paragraph citing statistics comparing the family of a half-century past to today:
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then in President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, published his report on the black family’s “crisis,” which was that 24 percent of black children were then born to unmarried women. Today, 73 percent are. Forty-one percent of all children are now born to unmarried women.
From that, one can reasonably assume that the percentage of children born out of wedlock for whites today is higher than that for blacks 50 years ago. The report calls the nuclear family “the nation’s oldest, and most intransigent, and now its most dangerous social problem.” Clearly, this is an issue that has spiraled out of control in recent decades and needs swift and dramatic correction.
This allows one to recall a more timely event: President Obama expressing his support for gay marriage. As he is the first President to do so, this is a noble feat in the progression of gay rights. While it was apparently in response to the constitutional amendment in North Carolina banning gay marriage that passed the night before, it nonetheless signaled the President’s view and alienated many in the Bible Belt opposed to gay marriage, particularly independents and even some who had voted for Obama in 2008. Of course, it was also opposed by social conservatives, particularly those in the Romney camp trying to corral those same independents and disenfranchised Democrats to their side. While I praise Obama for making a bold and politically risky move in an election year, the gay marriage issue is a footnote compared to the real issue, the divorce rate, as evidenced by the statistics above.
If we really want to restore the family, we should implement marriage equality in order to get to the heart of the matter. By focusing on workable solutions to reversing the ever-growing trend of increased divorce that don’t involve government intervention (due to its ineffectiveness as Will points out), we can then work together to bring the nuclear family back to America regardless of where we stand on our political beliefs.